City turns to 'extraordinary measures' in Saskatoon snow clearing effort
A man pushes a car stuck on a Saskatoon residential street on Nov. 10, 2020.
SASKATOON -- As the city turns its attention to clearing residential streets, the snow-clearing effort it's about to undertake may be unprecedented.
City snow-removal crews will try and tackle all main residential roadways in the next nine days.
That’s according to city manager Jeff Jorgenson, who briefed the media Thursday morning over Zoom, about the city’s ongoing mission to dig the city out of two major snowstorms.
“We are estimating getting through the most-needed streets in nine days,”Jorgenson said. “The streets that are most unpassable and those streets that feed out to the collectors.”
With an estimated 30 to 40 centimetres, snow clogged city streets forcing the city’s election office to postpone the civic election scheduled for Monday, to Friday Nov. 13.
Seventy-eight hours after the storm, Jorgenson said snow-clearing crews have been working around the clock to tackle priority one and priority two streets. As of Thursday evening, the city reported 90 per cent of priority one streets have been graded, 60 per cent of priority two streets and 40 per cent of priority three streets have received the same treatment.
The city said on Thursday, Stonebridge, Kensington and Brighton residential streets were completed and that 50 per cent of Hampton Village, 25 per cent of Rosewood, 25 per cent of Eastview and 25 per cent of Evergreen was also completed.
It adds that as of Thursday afternoon, work began in Montgomery and Arbor Creek, and Thursday night, work will continue in Rosewood and Eastview and begin in Dundonald and Holiday Park.
The city also reported that 50 per cent of the 150 km of priority sidewalks have been cleared and that Saskatoon Transit is moving again on a modified schedule.
Terry Schmidt, general manager of transportation and construction, said snow crews are also focusing attention on school zones. He estimates snow-removal from school zones will begin Thursday night and take all weekend to finish.
Schmidt added because of the snow accumulation from the weekend, it took longer for city contractors to tackle priority streets in some neighbourhoods including Evergreen, Stonebridge and Forest Grove.
Jorgenson said the city is seeking to add private contractors to the city’s snow-clearing effort. As of Thursday morning, the city has expanded to 350 crew members and 150 pieces of equipment.
“Due to the magnitude, we’re seeking additional resources,”Jorgenson said. “Call us if you have equipment to help the city dig out.”
Jorgenson said anyone interested in joining the city snow-clearing effort should call the city’s Customer Care Line 306-975-2476.
“There’s no limit, as far as that goes. We’re adding coordinators, pulling people working in construction redeployed to snow removal. I don’t think there’s a limit, we’ll take all the contractors we can get into the system,” he said.
The city said it will be releasing a schedule on Thursday of what residential streets will be plowed.
Back lanes will also be prioritized along with the residential snow clearing, according to the city.
While residents aren't required to move their vehicle to accommodate snow clearing efforts, the city recommends it if possible, so streets can be cleared more fully.
The city is also asking people not to push snow out onto the street when clearing snow from sidewalks and driveways as it can clog up streets even more and create further accessibility issues.
If piles of snow are left behind by the graders, the city said it will come back afterwards to clear it.
“I don’t think the city has ever undertaken what we’re proposing, clearing and snow-removal,” Jorgenson said. “I’ve never heard this happening in the history of the city.”
With an unprecedented snow-clearing and removal plan, Jorgenson said he expects the city to dip into a stabilization reserve, but that won’t cover all of the deficit.
“Clearly there’s going to be an impact with this being an unprecedented clearing and removal operation. We have $3.6 million in our stabilization reserve just for snow, so that will be a good start for sure, but it won’t cover what we’re talking about,” he said.
“It will be one of the first things we take to the new council, is funding strategies and options for the operations we’re talking about.”
On Friday, work will begin in Wildwood, Mayfair, Buena Vista, Lakeridge and Silverwood, the city said.